Celebrations as Hackney’s Overground ticket offices saved from closure

Hackney Central Station. Photograph: Smiley Tourist.

Hackney will be keeping its Overground ticket offices, in news which has sparked celebrations amongst trade unionists, campaigners and leading councillors.

The borough faced the prospect of being left without a single ticket office across 13 stations back in November, after Arriva Rail looked at rolling out a model in which stations would be operated by a single member of staff.

The plans have now been walked back after they sparked concerns over accessibility and safety, with London Mayor Sadiq Khan announcing that 47 of the 51 ticket offices previously proposed for closure would be kept open.

Arthur Leathley, Chair of London TravelWatch, said: ‘An overwhelming majority of those who responded to our consultation on the plans to close 51 ticket offices felt strongly that they should not close so we are pleased that the Mayor has found the money to keep 47 of them open.

“Many London Overground passengers rely on the ticket office to buy their tickets and I am delighted that we have secured significant investment in ticketing and customer service as a result of our activity.”

Stamford Hill ticket office alone will now not be rebuilt and reopened.

Among the 51 stations being previously looked at under the plans are Clapton, Dalston Junction, Dalston Kingsland, Hackney Central, Hackney Downs, Hackney Wick, Haggerston, Homerton, Hoxton, Shoreditch High Street, Stamford Hill, Stoke Newington and Rectory Road.

RMT General Secretary, Mick Cash said: “This is a significant victory for RMT members at the front line of the London Overground service who led the campaign to stop this ticket office carnage and jacked up the political pressure to reverse the cuts.

“It proves that trade union campaigning works.

“However we remain vigilant as in our experience once a package of cuts is proposed they remain an option in the longer term. Any backsliding will result in a new blast of pressure from this trade union and our national campaign to staff our stations and retain ticket offices continues.” ‎

Cllr Feryal Demirci (Lab, Hoxton East & Shoreditch), Hackney Council’s Deputy Mayor and cabinet member for transport, said: “The Mayor of Hackney and I, along with RMT Union, have been campaigning for a while now to ensure that London Overground ticket offices in Hackney remain open and staffed.

“We are delighted at the Mayor of London’s decision to fund the retention of ticket offices in Hackney.

“It’s a victory for all travellers in and out of the borough, but overwhelmingly so for our vulnerable and disabled passengers who value the face-to-face support, assistance and comfort provided by transport staff.

“I would like to congratulate RMT on its campaign and thank City Hall for listening.”

Arriva Rail London, who work with TfL to provide the overground services, had said in November that closing the ticket offices will “represent an improvement on current arrangements in terms of quality of service.”

A spokesperson for Arriva Rail London, which operates the London Overground on behalf of Transport for London, said: “We were asked to review the closure of ticket offices as part of modernisation in response to the changing way people pay for travel.

“Proposals were shaped by consultation with customers, rail industry and employees, which involved a station by station review.

“We have been working closely with TfL and the Mayor, thinking hard about what is best for both the travelling public and employees.

“We will continue to work with employees and unions on the wider modernisation programme, putting technology in the hands of our people and customers making journeys better for Londoners.”

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